National Night Out is bigger than ever in Columbus - WRBL

National Night Out is bigger than ever in Columbus

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COLUMBUS, Ga. -

Tuesday marked National Night Out in cities around the country, and Columbus' celebration was bigger than ever before.

2013 is the 30th year of the nationwide event, and Columbus' 13th year celebrating. Residents in neighborhoods around the city took the opportunity to show their public safety officers how much they appreciate them.

Growing from last year's five convoys, seven groups from Columbus public safety departments visited 32 communities all over the city. Crime prevention director Seth Brown says it's a great way for citizens to get in touch with the people who protect them.

"It's just a chance for them to say thank you for what you're doing to make our city safer as citizens," says Brown, "and it's a chance for them to meet public safety that answer those calls for them everyday."

Some neighborhoods went all out for the event. Winterfield On The Move Against Drugs organized ponies, bounce houses and a full-on barbecue to welcome law enforcement.

Rev. Willie Phillips says, "It will bring awareness through our citizens. They won't be afraid to call 911 because they know that the police department comes through their community, and they know that we have a strong community group."

The authorities were all smiles as they were greeted by the residents. Members of all law enforcement agencies were present, from the Fire and EMS Departments to the police, Sheriff's and Marshal's office, even Animal Control. Some elected officials also made appearances at various stops.

The Bibb City neighborhood watch group is fairly new, but members say they've already formed a special bond with the officers who patrol their area. Neighborhood Watch treasurer Jenn Collins says, "They have been absolutely wonderful to the point that we know them on a first name basis, we say hi and wave when they're coming in, there's such a positive feeling when we see them now. You always hear that some neighborhoods maybe have a little animosity with their public safety officers, and there is none of that here. We absolutely embrace them and love working with them."

Columbus wasn't the only local city that celebrated National Night Out. Auburn, Opelika and West Point also had festivities of their own.

Neighborhood watchers say hopefully the event helps residents come together to combat the recent increase in crime.

Jessi Mitchell

Jessi joined the WRBL news team in October 2012 after working as a freelance production assistant for MTV Networks in Los Angeles.
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